Wednesday, 2 August 2017

Opera Ball in the House - Heed Nexus power amplifier

Heed Audio is somewhat known in Hungary; better known in foreign countries; it belongs to the few hi-fi manufactures where records are preferred to cables for example. Heed constructs systems, the components are designed to fit one another, ventures out of cast are not frequent, trade of organs are not fond of, High End Shows at home are not visited, however, there are clubs, community, live music, and they had even viola da gamba once…I hardly believe it myself, it was so fascinating.

The spectrum is diverse - from CD players through phono PSU to loudspeakers everything can be found; the Heed Enigma omnidirectional speaker has become speciality in the audiophile world. They have always had various series of devices, the aristocracy sits enthroned on top, obviously, just like in the old days. Some might remember the name Nexus - the origin of the bloodline vanishes in the early days of Hungarian history of hi-fi. The old Nexus of which three things were whispered - it has a fine sound, it is pretty scarce and very costly. Due to the latter two we have little experience in the sound, at least old memories are whirling with old equipment. At present a prototype novel Nexus mono-block pair has been designed. It is still being developed, do not look for it in the shop, it may be different eventually, it is not even certain to join the series of Heed. They why this test? 

Simply, the article is not about the technical details or topology but rather the music philosophy and approach of Heed, the relation - Nexus.

There are occasions at times when the nobility gathers together, have a chit-chat, treat themselves with delicious food, survey each other’s jewels and pompous outfit; a typical example is the ball where all this happens in highbrow circles, during the dubious estate transactions and stock market discussions there is loads of music around which, hopefully, our whole hi-fi existence winds.

Such an illustrious gathering was organised in my home the other day.

Arrival in curtained chariots in perfect professional wrapping, the dress code is black evening dress, really, the exterior is elegant, half rack size, not too thick, one single clip at the back, only captions in the front and a blue led light

A clear type - murmurs someone with a gold chain covered in cigar smoke, his face is not visible, he is a fat racist if you do not need to talk about the origin of races with him, he is a cool guy, he has rhodium mines and he finances processions against mp3 in secret 

The standard connectors are of extremly high quality.

Meeting with strange and genteel families for the first time, the cables, they arrived from the USA. Acoustic Zen Absolute speaker cable and Absolute XLR interconnect - rather than high quality cables peculiar to Heed - the hardcore American cable magician’s own signed pieces, the price is discreetly hushed up.

Nexus offers itself slightly ashamed, (to be plugged in from the back) the spades finely slip into their place, they can be heavily pressed together, it holds the 1.5 kg cable monster tight, this eve the banana plug would receive a half-smile only.

There are a few topics you must be able to talk about in continuum in circles like this before you go on to talk about illegal gun transport.
It is golf, tennis, sports cars and balanced signal path.

Heed and XLR???
Yes, blue blood Nexus can make it too, what is more, in real balanced operation mode rather than  usual transformer produced semi-XLR.

The other member of the company is Mark Levinson, No. 512. SACD player, is just saying that “No” is not abbreviation of 'Number' but the word to be answered to the question whether a better CD player is available, a faint smile to the lousy joke, but, indeed, a Rolls Royce among the CD players, big, black, with Esoteric industrial masterpiece mechanics inside, in its 12-cylinder engine with 4 pairs of DAC chips in dual-difference operation and a genuine digitally controlled analogue volume control.

The speaker is a mixture, it worked its way up to the club with its sound referring to big names; factory AN drivers, AN E cabinet which is a Snell really (Peter Snell invented it in the USA), he is remembered only by the oldest Mafioso in the room. - inside a Snell J crossover works.
A genuine big face, it boasts with its 27 Hz bass-frequency limit, keeps telling lies that it subjugated the room too, it uses it like a rag to produce sub bass. The outfit is amazing, veneer genuine, but the paper of the driver is like the one in my granny’s vacuum tube radio, plain and black, tweeters and modified Vifas costing $ 20 -  in the Xover 10-cent elcos well, but the topic is rather the 50k+ price of the full silver AN brother.

Nexus is located in a nice big place of a cubic metre because the missing power amplifier, DP 6C33C, with power tubes of a MIG25 fighter, 2×25 kg, 600W PSU power supply and 280 degree Celsius surface pipe temperature is like a carrier rocket ship.
I am keen on it.
Tube is another galaxy. It is a music generator. It is in dry dock in Budapest at the moment for Peter Dénes is fixing the security control of a nuclear reactor; it is fine as it is for there is no need for comparison and the craze of hasty re-plugging, it is all about the ball and the music we are listening to.

As little as an hour of chit-chat, familiarising, warm-up - I leave the room to allow them to vibrate together and have small talk.

You are not of a big size, max a 100W toroid inside, if it fits the place then what is enough for? 
a transistor tycoon art collector is being malicious.

Frida Kahlo was exactly 150.5cm, she replies, the other takes a deep gulp for everybody knows that yesterday he paid 3 million pounds for a Frida’s painting.

Two flat shoe boxes - a boot would not fit in, a media tycoon is buggering with a hardware empire behind him, he arrived in a copper Limousine, for he is wending in Al-Ni-Co magnet business.

In Reviczky Castle in Budapest [Heed Audio is located in Reviczky street at Budapest] I walked on marble or inlaid wood floor, I saw boots only when Dad went hunting or fashion shows in Paris…

What she said makes them laugh.

I wish you were not that cold...  (for in high operation Nexus will not even be lukewarm) a class A member - who made his first millions manufacturing waffle makers - is trying to console.

We have central steam heating in the palace, no need for more heat and I imbue music from inside.

They clink glasses, she is accepted.

Opening dance.

Nexus is swivelling nicely; its spikes do not get tangled, when it is the harpsichord’s turn there is no stumble. Rapid, detailing with fine lower octave; its general balance is good as it is for first hearing. No abrupt force for wiring.
My, how important it is, if only you knew…

Then some starters. Harp pieces, phantasies, a Folia run from SACD.
Musical - it is the first timid compliment she receives. The complicated synonyms of this word accompany the whole evening party.

There is a Bach piece whose prelude is very nice on viola da gamba. A few heedonists may remember Zsolt’s face [owner of Heed Audio] when we suggested playing this minute from a record then Nora will play the real one … it was a great fun.

Appreciative rumble filled the room. You can hear that an ultra-slight inaccuracy turns up in a continual track of sound at several places, a bit of shiver three times as if it was an intended ornamentation. I listened to it 7 times at one sitting - it happens when I am in the mood.

The main courses come. Vivaldi operas, then the new L’Arpeggiata record, Cavalli’s masterpiece. Concertos, complicated sopranos, gastronomical specialities, beautiful melodies. Nexus takes up the right register fast, these have been my favourite music, I am especially fond of accompanied monody; she is speaking with a finely descending tone as if she was saying that the weather is fine.

Doubt is gone from the faces, the pot-bellied director of the Opera starts ogling with her, indeed, she delivers the complexity of music well, the counter tenors are grandiose, it is known by few only. Fine pulsation in the continuo, the breathing of the choir members is nicely heard. After Tecum Principium she is embraced by some, the women are whining for so beautifully she is singing.

Candles are lit, sacred music is forthcoming. Masterpieces of Renaissance polyphony, then Monteverdi’s vespers, then Cabezón, harp music again. It is going to be a big temple, huge space, mild smell of myrrh and excellent intonation.

Meanwhile the director of the Opera is hooked on in the bathroom; he is washing his hands, he is ardently explaining to the Russian attaché - plutonium and the military tubes are the main profile there - Look, I utter the word: plunk, p at the beginning, p, p, p, it is perfect at Nexus in a way that there is no saliva on the mirror…at least 4 main roles are flashing in his head which he wants to have sung by Nexus in La Fenice; then he rushes back to the saloon where the cembalo rehearsal is just over, yes, the member card with a gold edge is placed in Nexus’s hand where the members are able to sound this semitone-sensitive instrument amusingly; not many are distributed unfortunately; perfect amplifiers costing many million have already bled to death on this battlefield.

Then thumping on the door, some men wearing other than a tail coat are pushing a portative organ in, run back to fetch the Baroque guitars and drums and rattles and some weird wind instruments, the candles are put out, torches with big flames are hung on the wall then they start the performance.

Frighteningly good atmosphere springs up, Nexus feels magnificently, everybody is dancing, men are wearing shirts only, the butler is massaging his forehead, it is unprecedented, he moans. Theatrical intermezzo music from the Sun King’s era, then the chansons of Le Poeme Harmonique, Venetian dances and coloratura arias, then off to Mexico, everything is shaking and rattling, the bass is simply genius, I have never heard such a rattle from a solid state, they danced until daybreak…

They sleep till next noon, then packing. Nexus off, disconnected, the blue eyes are still lighting, the puffers, elcos are big, I take them out to the chariot, I can see her watching ML standby, it is blinking red led faster and faster, seriously, it cannot come off the trestle with its 20 kilos, the blue light is not willing to turn off, the looks interweave, well, they have fallen into love all right, how romantic, I am laughing, I cannot stand it in music but it is nice here; I close the box, draw the curtain in the chariot down, ML is still blinking faster…

I wiped the dust off its top every day for a week and fed it with lukewarm SACD only when it finally calmed down.

In the evening at bedtime the two E boxes whisper something, Nexus’s musicality seems to have left an imprint; 

They are not contemplating why Peter Qvortrup and Peter Snell, have the same name and what internal cables they would be happy about or what placemats are needed and where - but they are stroking their tight membrane edges, what a beat it was on the Pandolfo record and how much the gamba vibrated them all through, no, it does not hurt, moreover, it was pretty fine,

..and then they had an argument whether Sandrine Piau or Jaroussky are better voices and how Leznieva can have such great singing, how small her mouth is and why there was no hi-fi record in the arena, yet, the Spanish guitar was fine in the end, then they started pulling the early tuning systems out of their ass, then made comparisons of double manual cembalos, there came the Renaissance theory of the Equity of Strings, … then I think I fell asleep.

I am returning the stuff, I think I will have a rest at the next halt and if there is an Allen key in the car, I should only have a look in it, try to find, perhaps there is a tube there, for it is impossible that a solid state toots so well.
I must tell Zsolt something if he asks what it was like, I will make up something in the traffic jam in Budapest, I am trying to gather my thoughts; it is not that simple to avoid offending him or making him over-confident, the situation will give itself.
It should be something like this:

Hi, Zsolt, Nexus is a good amplifier indeed, I liked it, thanks again.

Yes, I think it will be just fine.

*         *         *

Translated by Kenesei Andrea


This Nexus monoblock pair never returned to Heed Audio - they are still in my room.
After 3 years - no any amplifier could outperform it,
I love it.

300W toroid each.

Paired with BBC monitors - outstanding.
Complicated crossover is no problem.
Harbeth and Spendor speakers especially love it.


You will find the Heed's website. 
Nexus was produced in a very limited seria only.

Thank you for the images.